JOC starts abuse probe of national sports federations

Kyodo

In response to allegations of physical and verbal abuse in the national women’s judo team, the Japanese Olympic Committee on Thursday began investigating abuse in its other affiliated federations, with 13 of the bodies questioned telling media they were free of abuse.

For two days, the JOC will listen as the heads of development from each of the 31 sports federations that compete in the Olympics submit to questioning. Of the 15 bodies whose representatives were questioned on Thursday, 13 told reporters that there was no abuse within their federations. Representatives of the cycling and boating federations declined to comment.

Yasuhiro Harada, who oversees development within the Japan Athletics Federation, met reporters after being questioned about the possible existence of abuse or power harassment in the national team from the time of the 2008 Beijing Olympics to last year’s London Games.

“In athletics, there was not one instance,” Harada said of his answer.

Swimming federation development chief Koji Ueno said he was unaware of any such incidents.

“From 1997, when I was head coach, I never came across any incident of that kind, either during a training camp or during a meet,” he said.

Morinari Watanabe, the executive director of the Japan Gymnastic Association, told the JOC his federation’s effort to eliminate sexual and power harassment will include discussions with athletes and harsher penalties for coaches. The program is to start from fiscal 2013.

Japan Skating Federation vice chairman Taichi Suzuki suggested that power harassment was difficult to pin down.

“I believe there are cases where coaches motivate through strong language,” he said. “If coaches are wary of going that far, they may be unable to function.”